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Old 08-08-2010, 08:26 AM   #1
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Unsalted Butter + Salt? Vanilla Bean + Vanilla Extract?

BUTTER:
I'm making a Peach Cobbler and the recipe calls for 6 Tblsp Unsalted Butter and 1/4 tsp of salt. Why? What is the purpose of using unsalted butter at all...what difference will it make to just use salted butter?

I'm sure this question has been asked before but I can't find anything in the searchbox that specifically addresses this.

VANILLA:
Also....it calls for scraping out the inside of a real vanilla bean. Will anyone be able to notice any difference if I just use vanilla extract? The recipe actually calls for the real vanilla bean for the peach mixture and then calls for vanilla extract for the topping....why?

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Old 08-08-2010, 08:42 AM   #2
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I'll try and answer:

BUTTER: Well not seeing the recipe I am going to guess that 1/4 tsp salt is being added to the dry ingredients? It is involved in that whole "chemical reaction" that takes place with the powder, soda, and flour as much as it is for falvor enhancement. If it is in the butter is not available to the dry ingredients as readily. If you use salted butter then the overall "saltiness" of the dish could be too strong.

VANILLA: If you are going to be cooking the mixture the valilla flavor from the bean will infuse into the mixture where as the extract would not hold the flavor for a long cooking period. Remeber extract is made with alcohol that will burn off. You can replace the bean with extract, just add it at the end of the cooking not at the start, where you usually add the pod and the seeds. I'm not sure what the exact replacement amount would be, but I"m sure someone can fill that is.
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:08 AM   #3
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Dave, you are right on! I'll add just a little from what is left of my theory memory bank.

Unsalted butter is used in baking to not affect the overall flavour. As Dave said, any salt added to dry ingredients is for the leavening process. For all my cakes and other baking, even my frostings, I always use unsalted butter. One thing I have learned from my favourite source, Warren Brown, use regular butter containing 82% milk fat, and not the European brands which are 86% and even higher. I needed unsalted butter one time and they didn't have the regular so I paid a full $2 more for a pound of the "good stuff". My cake was too dense and the flavour was off.

Vanilla bean seeds are very concentrated. The seeds of one pod are equal to one tablespoon of pure vanilla extract. You can also buy vanilla paste which is in the middle as far as price range and since it contains seeds, is close to the pods for flavour. You use it one to one in place of extract (so one TBSP per pod). If you are worried that one tablespoon will affect the liquid of your dish, cut your milk/water/etc. by one tablespoon.

Hope that helps.
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:13 AM   #4
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Thank you, Dave. That helps.

For the topping, the salt goes in the dry ingredients as well as flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda...and then then you whisk in the buttermilk, melted unsalted butter, and vanilla extract.

For the fresh peaches, you add brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla bean seeds, and 2 Tbsp flour and dot it with softened unsalted butter...then cook it 10 minutes before putting the topping on for another 18-20 min.

Oh...didn't see you there LPBeier!...thank you! That's good information!!
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:20 AM   #5
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No problem, Mollyanne. In the case of the vanilla with the peaches, the 1 tbsp extract replacing the bean will not harm the consistency at all.
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:24 AM   #6
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So then why would anyone go to all the trouble of slicing a vanilla bean and scraping out the seeds if 1 Tbsp vanilla extract achieves the same desired effect?
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Old 08-08-2010, 09:34 AM   #7
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Because the pod and seeds have such a deep earthy flavour tone that they enhance a dish or baked good. I use pods, paste and beans in my baking. For custards, ice creams especially, the seeds which stay in the mix add great flavour and look very nice as well.
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